Ferrari, McLaren and Mercedes closely matched in race distance simulations

Three of the top teams of 2010 went head-to-head in race simulations in Spain

Three of the top teams of 2010 went head-to-head in race simulations in Spain

Tomorrow is the final day of F1 testing before the first race of 2010 and the question everyone wants to know the answer to is this: Who’s got the fastest car?

Ferrari have been rumoured to be the favourites for some time but the race distance simulation run in largely dry conditions at the Circuit de Catalunya this afternoon shows rivals McLaren and Mercedes are right up there with them.

Massa, Button and Rosberg race distance simulations, 27th February

Massa, Button and Rosberg race distance simulations, 27th February

Three of the teams tipped to be among the F1 front runners this year all ran race distance simulations at around the same time at the Circuit de Catalunya today.

With no red flags until the very end of their runs the simulations were largely uninterrupted. Only a brief rain shower drove Nico Rosberg into the pits briefly but he returned to the track within a few minutes.

Rosberg, along with Jenson Button and Felipe Massa, each completed 65 or more continuous laps of the track. They will have to complete 66 laps at the Spanish Grand Prix at the circuit in May.

The graph above shows their lap times throughout their stints. Rosberg began his stint slightly early, but after his long pit stop due to the rain he returned to the track and more or less synched up with Massa and Button’s race simulations. You can see Massa and Button’s graphs peak earlier at around the same time (slowing down because of the rain) while Rosberg has a later, much higher peak.

Each driver pitted twice during their stint though Button made his first stop quite a bit later than Massa. Massa did a long and impressively consistent middle stint.

Late in the simulation Button’s times dropped off, which was at least partly due to traffic.

There is a considerable degree of overlap between the three lines which suggest the three teams are fairly close on performance. Massa’s long middle stint suggests to me that the rumours Ferrari has a slight advantage over the others are accurate.

Unfortunately we weren’t able to see exactly how far each car could run for. The simulations ended when Rosberg’s car stopped, causing a red flag. Given how quickly the team were able to get the car running again afterwards it seems likely the W01 simply ran out of fuel.

We wait to see what the likes of Red Bull can achieve over a similar distance. And of course there will be further changes to the cars between now and the first race of the year.

But I take this as an encouraging sign that three of the leading teams are near to each other on pace, and we could be in for an excitingly close-fought championship in 2010.

What’s your take on the race distance simulations? Have your say in the comments.

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40 comments on Ferrari, McLaren and Mercedes closely matched in race distance simulations

  1. thanks keith 11111111111111111111111 times for such informative article.

    Of course 23 ones is an interesting prime number but not as interesting as 123571113171923 and 231917131175321 are :)

  2. sumedh said on 28th February 2010, 6:23

    Excellent article and awesome analysis.

    The Ferrari looks as if it could do just a 1-stopper.

    Rosberg’s times seem to go upwards from the start of a stint to the end of a stint.

    Whereas Felipe and Jenson’s times seem to stay constant, the degrading tyres and lowering fuel load balance themselves out.

    Felipe’s times in light rain are much much worse than Jenson though.

    Bring on 2010!!

    • “Felipe‚Äôs times in light rain are much much worse than Jenson though.”

      You know: “Felipe baby” does not stay cool on wet tracks!

  3. I’m not sure that Massa’s 40 lap-long stints was his second stint, instead I believe Ferrari tried a simulation with a very long first stint and then a brief last stint on softer tyre.

    When Massa started his 40 lap-long stint, his times didn’t improve as it should have been the case since he changed tyres indicating that Massa’s 10 lap-long stint before the 40 lap one is not included the race simulation, thus Massa did a race simulation with his short stint on soft tyres -in this case it must be super soft as his times immediately dropped of as was in Australia 09- at the end inturrupted by the red flag.

  4. mild7nick said on 28th February 2010, 10:43

    Keith I hope you read this,

    Maybe this is a non issue but ive just thought there could be a safety issue that no one has noticed so far.
    with the development of the anvil engine cover/shark fin, in the event of a rear end accident when the rear wing is removed and a car rides up onto the other i fear there is a danger even if small that a driver could be impaled by the long sharp object that is a shark fin. What do you think?
    Just for such a needless piece of bodywork is it worth the risk?

  5. Informative as usual – Thanks :)

  6. sato113 said on 28th February 2010, 15:12

    love it when you bring out the graphs!

  7. mild7nick said on 28th February 2010, 16:37

    possibly, just thinking if one came into the cockpit at speed its a potential issue, obviously no one would listen to me but wondered if you could see what others in f1 think?

  8. Patrickl said on 1st March 2010, 0:36

    Look how the lap times go up for Rosberg. They might have similar times, but that Mercedes still loses a lot of time at the ends of the stints. They are really hurting that that are so late with their 2010 aero package.

    Lets hope for their sake that they can still catch up and get their tyre wear under control.

  9. Peter said on 1st March 2010, 14:09

    Is it possible to do a graph like this on the ‘mid-field’ cars? If you want to play in F1 manager games most of the times the top teams are unaffordable to start. So you must pick the low-price mid field cars that actually are better then the other midfield cars.
    They have to urn your way to the top.
    So do you have a graph for Williams-Renault-ToroRosso-Sauber?

  10. Hi Keith & F1 fanatic readers

    This is awesome information isn’t it! & great for my fantasy league predictions, i hope its not to late to post but I was wondering if you have Red Bulls race distance simulation information in comparison with the the other three? & did Sauber or any of the other teams complete race distance or single lap distance simulations, I know you have covered a lot of data over the last test sessions and prior posts & other posters are asking the same questions but a single graph of the two different simulations would be awesome & informative.


    On a side note

    In my fantasy league ( i am picking

    Cars: Redbull, Ferrari, Mclaren, Sauber
    Drivers: Webber, Massa, Rosberg, Kobayashi

    pad up people i am sure some of us may be fighting against each other in public leagues but if your comp is set out similar, i would like to see what some other people came up with i went for 3 of the top teams & 1 dark horse Sauber for some sort of consistency and i picked the B drivers (except Webber ha)& once again a psychotic dark horse Kobayashi, i tried this method in 08 and got burnt by Kovi as he was so cheap and had a championship winning car bring on Bahrain! I love F1

  11. tommy said on 2nd March 2010, 21:39

    Where can I find long runs times form other teams. Iam specially interested in reanult .Thank you for any info.

  12. Chaz said on 3rd March 2010, 17:13

    I hope this bodes well for a close seasons racing…

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